Many gamers and critics alike have praised Planescape: Torment for its deep, intricate storyline and involving gameplay. The praise hasn't landed on deaf ears: Interplay listened and put the same programmers that made that gem onto its next project, Torn. Since it was just announced, today details on Torn are scarce -- although was can confirm that the game will run on the Lithtech 3.0 engine.
"It's like a mix between Fallout and Planescape," said Feargus Urquhart, Director on the title. "It won't be like the previous Black Isle games, as this game is not based in the Dungeons & Dragons world." Instead, an entirely new fantasyland has been created, although some of the typical trappings are there. "Sure, there's humans, elves, and the like, but there are also new playable characters that should liven up the mix."
The game definitely doesn't look like any of the previous Black Isle RPGs. Gone is the top-down/isometric viewpoint, and sprites are nowhere to be found. Instead, the game looks a lot like Neverwinter Nights. "We decided to go 3D because it allowed us to do things that simply aren't possible in the 2D arena. Additionally, the Lithtech Engine made doing this sort of game easier. We looked at the Quake and Unreal engines, but they're really not suited for this sort of game."
Similar to the previous games from Black Isle, Torn features realtime combat that can be paused at will. NPCs will be more reactive -- depending on the character being played and the proximity to NPCs, different conversations will take place. "If you're close enough to someone," continued Feargus, "you'll be able to hear what they say and possibly join in on the conversation. That conversation changes depending on the character you're playing and the events that have happened."
Characters are all skill-based, and each problem encountered can be handled in various ways. For example, stumbling upon a band of orcs means that the player can opt to battle them or perhaps try to use diplomacy. It all depends on the specializations chosen and the actions that have led up to that point. This should ensure that no two players have the exact same experience in the game, giving Torn depth and replayability.
Torn is due out in the fourth quarter of this year. "It's pretty much everything our fans have been asking for since we produced the original Fallout series," Feargus said. From what we saw, he's probably right.